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Your say Friday, 9 November, 2001, 15:04 GMT
Blair accused of Gibraltar 'stitch up'
Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar
Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar arrives in Downing Street
The British and Spanish prime ministers meet to discuss a possible deal on Gibraltar. But the local population is deeply suspicious of plans for the island's future.

Unsurprisingly, terrorism topped the agenda for the meeting between Tony Blair and his Spanish counterpart, Jose Maria Aznar, this morning. But a more familiar, outstanding diplomatic issue, the fate of Gibraltar, was also on the table.

The government believes the problems caused by Spain's centuries-old claim to the colony - border-crossings, telecommunications and air travel - can now be resolved by dialogue.

In an interview with the Today Programme this morning, Foreign Office Minister Peter Hain suggested that the world had changed since the 1969 constitutional settlement that stated there would be no change in sovereignty without the consent of the local population.


We will never ask Gibraltarians to sacrifice their British citizenship unless they freely choose to do so."

Peter Hain
He made a comparison with Northern Ireland - where, by discussion, long-cherished beliefs about sovereignty proved susceptible to careful compromise for the greater good

Britain accused of sell-out

But so far Gibraltarians have shown themselves to be deeply suspicious of what is being planned in London and Madrid.

They scent a sell-out - in which Gibraltar's status as a British territory would be diminished or lost altogether, with or without Gibraltar's consent, as Peter Caruana told the programme.


To listen to the interview, click on the audio buttons at the top of the page

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Peter Hain:
"All I'm asking for is a bit of fresh thinking in Gibraltar"
Peter Caruana:
"I have been advocating talks with Spain long before Mr Hain"
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